Will be announcing the short (two week) Summer session from Aug 15 - 26th soon!

What is the School for Poetic Computation?

School for Poetic Computation (SFPC) is a hybrid of school, artist residency and research group where students develop a deep curiosity of what it means to work poetically in computational media.

SFPC is not a technical bootcamp, it is an opportunity to work with a group of faculty, visiting artists, and peers to focus on exploring artistic practice through computation. Computation is poetic when technology is used for critical thinking and aesthetic inquiry – a space where logic meets electricity (hardware), math meets language (software) and analytical thinking meets creative experimentation (theory).

SFPC began as a school run by artists for artists. We’ve held two, two-week sessions and four intensive ten-week sessions celebrating the latest final student showcase in our new location.

This article featuring two teachers provides more insight on what teaching and learning feels like at SFPC or you can check out some of the student’s blogs from previous sessions: Yeseul, Chris, Toru, Andy, Sarah and Robby. Finally, our FAQ.

What will happen in ten weeks?

We will select up to 12 participants for the session. Classes vary in length and are usually held Monday-Friday between 10am and 5pm. Daily classes range from programming, electronics, history and theory of art and technology. There will also be student-led skill sharing sessions, lectures and workshops with visiting artists, visits to institutions, schools, and art spaces and dinners with special guests.

Students will have full access to the space to work on projects between classes with teachers and mentors readily available for technical, conceptual, and artistic guidance. Peer to peer collaboration is highly encouraged among participants and at the end of the session we celebrate with a final student showcase where you get to share your projects with the larger SFPC community.

What formal classes will happen this term?

We have structured our classes around the following concepts:

  • Computation and artistic practice — Algorithmic processes and concepts have been manifest in art and design throughout the twentieth century. How can we explore the influence of algorithms in practice and develop new approaches and techniques for utilizing them? What is the fundamental nature of computation and how can we work with it in a lyrical, expressive manner? How can code make things move in compelling and lifelike ways through animation and interaction?
  • Pedagogy, strategies for learning and teaching — How do you learn new things? What sorts of environments and communities foster a nurturing space and an ongoing practice of learning?
  • Language design as creative practice — Every programming language has specific parameters and demands certain processes in its use, we consider the subtle differences and approaches that have shaped various languages throughout history. This area focuses also on ways to design programming languages from scratch and asks how can language design open up new ways of thinking, making and building software? How can we build better tools and with that, better possibilities for ourselves?
  • Electronics and physical computing — What are the fundamental building blocks for electronic computer? How do transistors, resistors and capacitors work? How can we use binary logic gates to create adding and remembering machines? How does CPU work? How have micro-controllers made physical computing more accessible?
  • Theory and philosophy for technology — With contemporary society and our collective future irrevocably changed by ubiquitous technology, what critical questions can we, the makers, artists and technologists pose to society? What can we learn from the history of technology and how can we draft the future we like to see?
  • Urban space and architecture - We will explore playful intervention in the public space. What are interesting ways of connecting spaces? skateboarding?
  • Building the commons — The degree of access to artistic computational tools is largely a product of race, gender, sexuality, geography, and class. How can we use our skills and resources to bridge these divides? This area focuses on developing teaching tools, systems, and approaches to help bring poetic computation to diverse communities.

The idea behind these interconnected topics is to build on SFPC’s core curriculum by exploring common ground where we can take the ideas developed in our classroom into the streets and studio. We see them as platforms to help promote fearless prototyping, asking difficult questions, and creating projects that embody issues that are not yet commonly addressed in the art / tech world.

Who are the teachers?

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for autodidacts from all backgrounds who are curious, generous and open. Anyone with a passion to explore poetic computation is invited and celebrate diversity in all forms. We expect that you are eager to experiment, learn from failure and come fully dedicated to this ten week experience meaning you will commit to engage with SFPC full-time.

In the past, we have had students with a broad array of technical experiences and we were delighted, though unsurprised, that everyone had something to learn from each other. A group of faculty leads a selection process that is based on applicant’s answers to an application form, work samples, and short interviews. Upon acceptance, a selection of reading and prep work will be assigned to you to complete prior to attending SFPC.

How much is tuition?

$5,500 USD for the 10 week program. You’ll also need to cover your own cost of living, including housing and meals (recent alumni report this to be in the range of $4,000 - $7,000). We are committed to being fully transparent about how we make and spend money. In the spirit of radical openness and generosity, on which the school was founded, we open-source our finances on Github. There, you can read financial reports and download raw statements.

Do you offer scholarships?

We are completely self-funded, which dramatically limits our ability to offer scholarships. In Fall 2015, we are offering two work-study opportunities to qualified applicants, who would be expected to work 5 hrs/week in exchange for a 50% reduction of tuition.  We’re particularly looking out for women, people of color, people under-represented in the field of art + technology, and those with financial need.

Please note that if you apply for work study, we will consider your application separately from the general admissions applications, since we have little flexibility regarding scholarships.This is for people who absolutely need assistance to participate in SFPC.

Occasionally, students have received support from cultural foundations or current employers and we are happy to provide materials as proof of acceptance.

How can I help SFPC?

We are actively seeking private, corporate and institutional support to open our door to more diverse students. If you are interested in sponsoring a student, email info@sfpc.io. We are able to receive tax-deductible donations through our fiscal sponsor.

What is expected of me?

Acceptance into the session is an invitation to join the SFPC community. Full-time participation during the ten weeks is mandatory. This also means you come prepared to all of the classes, do the homework, and engage with the community. We expect our students to be in the school between 10am~5pm, Monday to Friday. The most amazing things happen spontaneously while students are working on homework together and it often grows into a collaborative project. It’s also expected that you work openly – sharing what you learn along the way and collaborate with your peers. The success of the session for the group is dependent on engaged participation throughout the term. By participating you will be actively shaping an emerging culture of open source and transparent education.

Where is SFPC?

We are located in 155 Bank street, Westbeth Artists Community, New York City.

Deadline to apply

In the past, we’ve received 50+ strong applications, and this time will likely be competitive as well. We will select participants based on a work sample, application form and a short video introduction. We expect to notify the applicants by the end of March. Participants are expected to plan their travel and we do our best to help find accommodation.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have questions about the school: info@sfpc.io

SFPC is the best place you can explore your interest as much as you want and the place you start to write your own poem.

Yosuke Sakai

SFPC is the purest, most honest exchange of knowledge and experience among peers I have ever experienced. It is a supportive space where everyone learns from everyone, and bridges are built that continue to be strengthened for years to come. You won’t get a certificate or a title at the end of it, but I would be amazed if you ever looked at your world the same again. I haven’t.

Ramsey Nasser

SFPC is not really a school or a course — it is more like a door into an extraordinary world. It is driven by passion, kindness and the thrill of teaching and learning. I would love to live those inspiring weeks all over again.

Jesse Wolpert

SFPC was amazing — life-changing even — i want to do all this stuff for the rest of my life!

Rachel Uwa

I've never been consistently surprised and inspired as much as at SFPC.

Jonathan Dahan

If you think SFPC is what you think, that will be wrong. SFPC is a space for a group of people who badly want to try something new. They never tried it and probably will never try it again. SFPC will become a spirit embedded in your blood which makes you think things with a different angle, just like its motto: more poetry, less demo.

Paul Cheng

I learned a lot at SFPC. I got the opportunity to work with extremely impressive people from diverse backgrounds and amazing teachers like Taeyoon Choi, Tega Brain, Kyle McDonald, Lauren McCarthy, Jonathan Dahan, and Zachary Lieberman. It was only a 2 week program last time, but I learned many things from other participants and got the chance to explore and fail freely. SFPC helped me to reshape the way I think. It's your turn.

Hyojung Seo

School For Poetic Computation is equal parts The Factory, childhood blanket fort, and mad scientist's lab. I learned a ton from the teachers and the whole SFPC community in a huge collaborative and exploratory environment.

Lee Tusman

Attending SFPC is like walking into an all day buffet supplied with food from hyper-talented chefs. There's more than you could ever consume, naturally, and you will most likely find yourself requiring a digestion period, but holy crap is it tasty.

Daniel Wilson

My takeaway from SFPC: Never settle for code that isn't at least a little bit magic

Nathan Rosenberg

In SFPC I found a great community and it gave me the confidence to take on coding projects I couldn't have done before. Totally true, the people were great, the projects were fun, and shortly after I started a data viz project for a client I never would have gone after before, using python, processing, d3js, etc.. SFPC's also influenced my teaching work, and I'm starting to develop the curriculum for a [parametric] fabrication class

Scott Leinweber

SFPC is a welcoming environment that mixes individuals from a variety of backgrounds, in a beautiful Lower East Side space, to think about and work on beautiful and esoteric sketches with computers, programming, and circuits. The program oscillates its focus between technique, concept, context, art and design. A huge variety of guests compliment the diverse pedagogical methods and interests of the core instructors. I learned so much and had such a great time.

Andrew Kleindolph